Best 12 Inch Bike For Boys & Girls (Under $300)

Why selecting the right kid’s bike is important? Because the first bike is an experience a kid will always remember throughout their life.

A 12 inch bike is what most kids start their biking experience with.

As adults, many of us can very clearly remember our own earliest experiences with our bikes.

So, it’s only fair that we help our kids shape that memory with their bikes in a pleasant and fun way.

So, here’s our pick of the best 12-inch bicycles for girls and boys under $300 dollars.

Best 12-inch Bikes For Girls And Boys:

BrandTrek Precaliber 12Cannondale Kids Trail 12Giant Animator 12 & Adore 12Specialized Riprock Coaster 12
Weight (Pounds)15.38NA15.0NA
Height (Standover)343 mmNA344 mm356 mm

A 12-inch bike is suited for a 3-year-old boy or girl. For children who are 4 or 5, a 14-inch bike or 16-inch bike would be a better option, factoring in their growth surge.

Check our kids’ biking size chart for more details on choosing the right bike.

So, how do we go about achieving the task of selecting the right bicycle for kids?

Well, for starters, get them the proper kids bike that fits them fine and one that they would continue to love riding on.

Now, finalizing the right 12 inch bike for your little one is not an easy task, but it doesn’t have to be a chore either.

That’s where we come in. We have reviewed dozens of kids’ bikes and have arrived at what we believe are the best in the under $300 price range.

Trek Precaliber 12

Trek Precaliber12Girls

Trek is one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in the US and is an established brand in the adult bikes category. Trek Precaliber 12 is part of the Precaliber series for kids.

The frame of the bike is aluminum that weighs the bike in at 15.38 lbs; okay, but not great.

The other not-so-great aspect about this bike is that it comes with only coaster bakes. The addition of hand brakes would have given this bike a bit more value.

The bike is a good fit for 3-year-olds between 36-40 inches tall and comes in two color variants, pink and blue, to satisfy the color palettes of both girls and boys.

The options for color are limited in comparison to brands that offer 4 to 8 different color choices.

The bike also comes with detachable training wheels that are easy to install and remove.

Aluminum FrameOnly coaster brakes
2 color variants

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Cannondale Kids Trail 12 Boys & Girls

Cannnondale Kids Trail

Cannondale is part of Dorel Sports that also includes brands such as Schwinn in their portfolio, which is a popular name in the kids’ bikes segment.

Cannondale can be branded as the upmarket cousin. Cannondale is also a very popular and respectable brand in the adult road and mountain bike category.

The 12-inch Kids Trail for boys and girls comes with a lightweight alloy frame that gives the bike weight of 15.1 lbs. Again, okay, but not that great.

The boys’ version comes in orange while the girls in violet – not too many color options to choose from.

The bike boasts of a low-standover height, however, no figures have been provided.

The bike is also fitted with training wheels that can easily be removed and fitted back.

One drawback is that the bike comes only with coaster brakes and no hand brakes.

The tires are multi-use 1.75” treads unlike the other brands in this segment that sports the 2.3” treads. The greater the width of the tires, the better the grip, but lesser the maneuverability.

The bike can be purchased through retailers and is not available for online purchase.

Alloy Frame
Strong build
Only coaster brakes
2 color variants

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Giant Animator 12 & Adore 12

Giant Liv Adore 12

Giant is a massive bike company, as the name also suggests. It’s the biggest bike manufacturer on the planet that also supplies bike frames to a lot of other bike brands.

Animator 12 for boys and Adore 12 for girls come with an aluminum frame, but the company has not provided the details on the weight of the bike.

The bike comes with removable training wheels as is the case with other brands too.

Both the models come in 2 colors each making it slightly better in terms of color choices compared to the other brands that we’ve reviewed.

The bike is only equipped with coaster brakes and no hand brakes are included.

Additional features include free home delivery with 14-day free returns. Giant markets the girls’ bikes under the Liv Cycles brand name.

Aluminum Frame
4 color variants
Only coaster brakes

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Specialized Riprock Coaster 12

Specialized riprock12

Specialized is an adult-bike manufacturer based out of California. They are known for their mountain and road performance bikes.

The bike comes with an aluminum frame but the manufacturer has not provided any numbers on the weight of the bike which is a major factor when it comes to kids’ bikes.

The bike has no handbrakes and only coaster brakes are available.

The bike however is built tough in line with their adult bike lineups and is able to tackle some light neighborhood trails.

The bike also has a good standover height at 365 mm which is a good 20 mm increase compared to the rest of the brands.

There are 4 color options to chose from and the bike comes with removable training wheels.

Aluminum Frame
4 color variants
365 mm standover height
Only coaster brakes

Click For Details

Points To Consider When Buying A 12-inch Bike:

Age Of Child:

Generally, 12-inch bikes are suited for 3-year-olds. However, age is only a guideline, as 3-year-olds can differ in terms of height and size.

A balance bike would be a better option for a child under 3 as it would help them learn the ropes of biking more efficiently and can be transitioned to pedal bikes later.

If the child is 4 years or 5 years old, a 14 inch or 16 inch bike would be a better option which would also take into account for their growth.

Height Of Child:

12-inch wheel bikes generally fit kids between 32 and 40 inches tall.

The right bike height is determined by the child’s inseam measurement.

For kids who are in the learning phase, the saddle height should be a couple of inches lower than their inseam height.

The child should be able to place their feet firmly on the ground and not tip-toe, as it would help them to feel more confident with the bike without the fear of crashing.

Once they get a good grip of the basics, the saddle height then can be increased to help with better control of the bike.

Weight Of Bike:

The weight of the bike is another important factor that is overlooked by many when purchasing a bike for kids.

Unlike adults who can lug around heavier weights in proportion to their body weight, a kid’s physique is not developed enough to do just the same.
So, a bike that has low weight adds extra fun to the whole experience of biking when a kid is starting out.

At the $300 price point, the bikes tend to be lighter than the cheaper versions.

Q Factor:

Another factor that adds to the ease of biking is the bike’s geometry.

The proper geometry enables for a proper fit of the bike. A couple of things that need to be kept in mind are:

The Q factor: The measurement of the distance between the two pedals. Well-designed bikes will have a low Q factor, meaning, the distance between the pedals will be narrower that reduces the splay of the legs while biking. This results in less sway and wobble of the bike from side to side while pedaling.

The length of the wheelbase: The wheelbase distance is a measurement of the distance between the front and back wheel hubs. The longer the length, the better the plant of the bike on the ground that results in better control.

Materials Used:

Steel, aluminum, or alloy are the most commonly found materials on a 12-inch pedal bike.

Steel is a strong and durable material, however, is heavier than aluminum, and that can make all the difference to a little kid’s bike.

Bikes in this price category mostly sport aluminum frames than steel.

Additional Features:

All small bikes for kids come with coaster brakes as mandated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). However, coaster brakes can create more harm than good and can be a hindrance to learning.

Biking requires coordination of the brain to pedal and balance at the same time.

Some expensive models also have hand-brakes in addition to coaster brakes that are more intuitive for learning.


The adage you get what you pay for is true for kids’ bikes too. At this price range, you’ll see better quality materials on the bike, whether it’s an aluminum frame, or better geometry, that can make a big difference to the entire biking experience for the child.

Further Reading:

Best 14 inch bikes

Best 16 inch bikes

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